The former Sew What building at 4953 Xerxes Ave. S. is under renovation to become a taqueria courtesy of Hector Ruiz, the restaurateur behind spots like Café Ena, La Fresca and Rincón 38.
The food is still in development — Ruiz personally builds out his restaurants first and creates the menus last — but he said it will feature global cuisine with no boundaries. It would likely seat about 40 people in winter and 60 in summer, and he may seek city approval for a rooftop patio.
The restaurant is tentatively called “DR 49,” referencing Ruiz’ grandfather, “Don Raul,” who founded a distillery in Mexico.
“It will be a little rustic place in the heart of Minneapolis,” Ruiz said.
He envisions fast-casual counter service with tacos, burritos and quesadillas on homemade tortillas, shifting to a more formal restaurant in the evenings with table service and a rotating menu.
He’s installing Gustavo Romero as executive chef, and Ruiz said Romero’s background is similar to his own. They both grew up in Mexico, attended Le Cordon Bleu and trained in Europe. Romero previously worked in California at Calavera. They became acquainted when Romero came to eat at Ruiz’ Costa Blanca Bistro, and Romero later cooked for a group at Café Ena, serving several courses including ceviche and tostadas with duck.
“It was so good,” said staff member Barbara Bullhead.
By bringing on investors and installing Romero as executive chef, Ruiz aims to spend more time with his surviving children, ages 21, 17 and 13. Ruiz said he made sacrifices to launch his restaurants. As an immigrant, he said his alternative was working multiple jobs for $10-$15 per hour. Now he’s working toward an MBA.
“This is my new chapter in my life,” he said. “Every restaurant has a piece of my life.”
Ruiz aims to open the restaurant in July.